‘Distorted’ in translation?

Hatoyama denies Op-Ed piece expresses 'anti-American' view


An opinion piece by Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama published in The New York Times has drawn flak in America over its apparent antiglobalization bent, prompting the presumptive prime minister to argue portions of his essay were “distorted” in translation.

The piece, originally published in the September edition of the Japanese monthly journal Voice and titled “My Political Philosophy,” appeared Aug. 27 on The New York Times’ Web site under the headline “A New Path for Japan.”

The essay was also used by the International Herald Tribune and Christian Science Monitor.

The essay begins by declaring how U.S.-led globalization and pursuit of capitalism have eroded human dignity, and goes on to question how to “put an end to unrestrained market fundamentalism and financial capitalism that are void of morals or moderation.”

Hatoyama told reporters Monday that the contribution was an excerpt from his original essay and was published by The New York Times without his permission.

“Portions of the contents have been distorted. If the entire essay is read, one would understand that it did not express anti-American views,” he said, adding that while globalization has its negatives, it also has its positives.

Naoki Nakazawa, managing editor of Voice, said that so far he has not received any reprint requests by any of the U.S. papers that published the essay and was unsure if this infringed the essay’s copyright, which belongs to Hatoyama.

“It’s possible the newspapers summarized and translated the article from the original that appeared in our magazine,” he said.

Hatoyama’s secretary, Daisuke Haga, said they were also unaware that the essay was circulating in U.S. publications. He urged people to read the entire essay, which is posted on Hatoyama’s Web site in Japanese, English and Korean.

“Then you would realize that it’s not about anti-Americanism, but about ‘yuai’ (fraternity),” he said.

Experts, however, are skeptical whether there was any difference in the message in Hatoyama’s essay.

In a Tuesday blog on Observing Japan, run by political commentator Tobias Harris, Harris argues that the translated, abridged version was “far superior to the original.”

“And at no point in the original essay did Hatoyama give much thought to the positives of globalization,” he wrote. “The original reads just like a longer, harsher version of the translation, with nearly a page of discussion of how capitalism treats people as ends, not means, and about how it destroys values, traditions and communities.”